Scott snatches 16-lap Classic win

SHANE Parker did his best to extinguish the threat of Scott Nicholls in the 16-Lap Classic at Foxhall Stadium.The extrovert Australian, who had earlier put out a fire in Daniel King's machine at the starting tapes, won the marathon race after leading from beginning to end last night.

By Elvin King

SHANE Parker did his best to extinguish the threat of Scott Nicholls in the 16-Lap Classic at Foxhall Stadium.

The extrovert Australian, who had earlier put out a fire in Daniel King's machine at the starting tapes, won the marathon race after leading from beginning to end last night.

But he was pipped overall by Ipswich Evening Star Witches skipper Nicholls.

The current British champion and winner of this event last year made up for some of his lost revenue due to the early finish of the Witches season by pocketing the £1,000 first prize.

Nicholls scored 11 points in the qualifying races, and with his two bonus points for starting off the back grid and eight points he received for finishing fourth in the finale he did just enough to edge Parker into second place.

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Witches rider Kim Jansson was third overall after finishing second to Parker in the main race. The Swede ended level on points with Leigh Lanham, but gained a rostrum place by virtue of his better placing in the marathon heat.

It could have turned serious when King's machine burst into flames as the riders lined up for the start of heat six.

Parker was one of the first on the scene, picking up a fire extinguisher on his way from the pits.

"I could see the danger," he said. "I put out a fire in one of Paul Hurry's machines once. And I bruised four fingers when I smashed a glass cabinet in a workshop in Rockhampton, Australia to get at a fire extinguisher after Steve Johnston's bike started up in flames."

With Parker's help the fire was quickly put out, but thick smoke surrounded the tapes for several minutes.

Talking about the main race, Parker said: "Tactics has to play a part – and I did not want to start off the back grid, 15 metres adrift.

"I made an error of judgement in the heats last year and struggled from the back for 16 laps. This time I knew I could take the maximum 14 points from the front.

"And it nearly worked. A couple more points in the qualifiers and I would have won."

Parker was saved from possible serious injury when Carl Stonehewer laid down his bike in miraculous fashion in heat seven.

Parker lost control and spun round a couple of times right in front of Stonehewer, but somehow the latter was able to drop his bike and stop within a few feet.

Nicholls admitted that he was riding blind over 16 laps. "I thought if I finished ahead of David Howe and Joe Screen I would finish on top overall," he said.

"Brett Woodifield was like a road block in front of me and I took ages to get past him. Luckily I did pass, but the first three were so far ahead I had little chance of catching them."

It was on lap eight that Nicholls moved into fourth place, with the first three positions remaining the same for the whole race.

Howe stopped on lap 11, while Joe Screen completed the course but almost a lap behind. Johnston edged out Woodifield for fifth place passing his fellow Australian on lap 12.

It proved to be a memorable end to an easily forgettable Witches season – and fitting that Nicholls should be the star of the show.

He held the Ipswich side together for most of a campaign that saw Ipswich finish bottom of the Elite League.

And Jansson did his chances of a place in the 2004 Ipswich side no harm. "I would love to come back to Foxhall next year," he said.

And so would Woodifield, who rode for the club four years ago. "I love the circuit as it has plenty of dirt on it," said the Rye House rider.

"If Ipswich stay in the top flight, then a double up with a Premier League club would be ideal."

Screen burst inside Johnston on the back straight to win heat two, with Adam Skornicki just holding off Chris Harris for third place.

When heat six eventually got started, Nicholls passed Stonehewer on the second lap with King slowing when third on the final circuit.

Harris passed Skornicki for second place in heat nine, and Screen was good value again in heat 11 when he also passed the Pole – this time on the third lap.

Howe's engine spluttered to a halt as he crossed the line in heat 12, before the four lowest scorers contested the consolation six-lap final.

Harris won this after passing Skornicki as the riders came out of the fourth bend of lap one.

A huddle of around 20 officials gathered in the pits to confirm the starting positions for the final race of the 2003 campaign. They got it right, and so did Nicholls, although Parker did his best to put out his fire.

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